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Last Updated: Thursday, 29 September 2005, 13:05 GMT 14:05 UK
Conductor wins record of the year
Sir John Eliot Gardiner
Sir John has won more Gramophone Awards than any other artist
A conductor who set up his own record label after losing his contract has been rewarded with a top music prize.

Sir John Eliot Gardiner won record of the year at the classical music Gramophone Awards on Thursday.

He spent a year visiting European churches to record all Bach's cantatas, setting up his own label when Deutsche Grammophon pulled out of the project.

Gramophone editor James Jolly said it was "one of the most ambitious and uplifting musical undertakings ever".

Music lovers

Sir John embarked on the pilgrimage in 2000 to record each of Bach's sacred cantatas live with his Monteverdi Choir and English Baroque Soloists.

After Deutsche Grammophon dropped out, Sir John set up Soli Deo Gloria, funded partly by donations from music lovers.

Mr Jolly said: "After various setbacks he has finally started issuing recordings of this landmark series on his own label.

"Bach's sacred cantatas remain among his least-known works but each one is a miracle of imagination, craft and spirituality and Gardiner responds to all the innumerable challenges of this astounding music."

Terry Waite
Terry Waite championed the record

Each of the six finalists for record of the year had been championed by a celebrity.

Former church envoy Terry Waite, who supported the Bach recording, said: "Bach's music has always been part of my life - in good times and bad.

"This extraordinary Bach journey, led by Sir John Eliot Gardiner, is going to be a companion for many years to come."

It is Sir John's 14th Gramophone Award.

Previous record of the year winners have included Elgar Violin Concerto with Nigel Kennedy in 1985; Beethoven Symphonies Nos 1-9 conducted by Nikolaus Harnoncourt in 1992; and The Marriage of Figaro conducted by Rene Jacobs in 2004.


The awards were held in central London and saw Gramophone magazine team up with Classic FM for the first time.

Tenor Placido Domingo won the station's Listeners' Choice award, while US mezzo-soprano Marilyn Horne was given the lifetime achievement award.

Artist of the year went to Michael Tilson Thomas, music director of the San Francisco Symphony and string quartet The Lindsays were honoured with the special achievement award.

Mr Jolly added: "The Lindsays have not only offered magnificent and characteristically probing performances of the great works of the string quartet literature, but they have left a staggering recorded legacy."

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